The last 35 years have brought drug usage increases as a cycle, usually with the development of a new form of a familiar drug. Crack Cocaine. Crystal Meth. Extacy. Dabs. These drugs and their associated forms have always been criminalized. Not so for pharmaceuticals. Prescriptions for opioids have multiplied by three in the last 15 years. North America has the highest consumption rates for these drugs in the world, seemingly by design. The public relations exercise of Oxycontin being removed from the Canadian market and replaced with Oxycodone to deter abuse was done so generic makers could not begin to produce Oxycontin when the patent expired. But the continuously expanding demand had been established.
Synthetic opioids filled the void. Fentanyl has been around for 50 years but it was never meant to be an additive to street drugs. Demand will create opportunities for profit and that is happening on a massive scale. From scraping the gel from patches to a proliferation of pill-pressing operations and illegal importation, the progression has been rapid.
This epidemic has outdone every one before it, including the AIDS outbreak. Opioid deaths have increased exponentially. The statistics demonstrate this. Reaction from governments have varied from inaction, to new legislation and programs, to the familiar 'thoughts and prayers'. Canada has done more than most, but only after a change of power in Ottawa. Bill C-37 became law last year but the wheels of government turn slowly, never mind the money needed for it to make a difference.
Where is all the money going from this selling of death? How is it being laundered? The Globe and Mail has done stellar work on this front, courtesy of Kathy Tomlinson and Xiao Xu, on how Fentanyl money is affecting the hyper-inflated Vancouver real estate market by taking advantage of lax laws. Will a crackdown crash the BC economy where real estate is 25% of GDP? Once again, money vs people.